Cleopatra Blues 2023
Venerated Los Angeleno serves up sweet strife to ruffle a few feathers and smooth a few riffs.
Almost octogenarian now, Arthur Adams might have been a fixture on the American roots scene for longer than six decades, yet it wasn’t until lately that the veteran began to steadily move to the forefront of blues fans’ attention. Arriving ten years after his previous release, 2019’s "Here To Make You Feel Good" did indeed make good on the titular promise, but “Kick Up Some Dust” significantly ups the ante and signals the ultimate amalgam of B.B. King’s guitar prowess and Bobby “Blue” Bland’s vocal grace in AA’s delivery. Surrounded by a stellar ensemble of seasoned session players, this time the Tennessee-born musician sculpted what should amount to the finest hour of his career – unless there’s a successor album to claim such summit.
Going for the jugular from the off with a defiant, if unhurried, “It Makes Me Mad” that offers the listener a sonic caress before the gusty lines of gospel-tinctured refrain ram his confession home, Adams is pursuing a seemingly superficial effervescence in “Starving For Your Love” until his six strings strike up a searing solo, only to delve deeper into one’s depressed psyche on the magnificent “Hold On To Me” which leads to “Fly With Me To Paradise” with its gorgeous soulfulness. No wonder, this slice of rocksteady has to be followed by a punchy title track – a triumphant instrumental piece where Arthur’s twang and strum reign supreme over a simmering groove, setting the scene for the mellifluous, orchestral balladry of “I Love You More” in which the singer could challenge Barry White in terms of melismatic molasses, but resolving in “University Of Hard Knocks” whose robust blue moves are filled with gusto.
This artist isn’t afraid to let light humor rule the game, so the fun-infused “Done Got Over You” has a funky undercurrent and a tasty guitar wigout to it, and “Cool As A Cucumber” jives with a lot of grace and a few rock ‘n’ roll licks – unlike “Thieves Of Love” that purrs and roars with sweet despair, and the wordless finale “A Bag Of Soul” that brings on neon nocturnality. Not able to leave anyone indifferent to his sentiments, Arthur Adams is on top of his game here.